Topped with an imposing roof which gives it a haughty appearance, this large gray house on Main Street in Hudson copes quite well with the gray autumn weather. Dark clouds and bare trees don’t bother him. Rebellious, its red door even seems to extend an invitation to us. That’s nice, we’re coming!
There we are, in this house which was not always so big, but was always gray. This is what we learn when visiting the place with Michel Marchand. His partner, Marie-José Décarie, moved into this house in the early 1980s. He arrived a few years later. Under the leadership of these two artists – he drawing and sculpture, she art photography – the house originally built in 1949 underwent major transformations. Among these, two expansions which doubled its surface area. These additions were made with a taste for beauty, goodness and, obviously, a great love for art.
The passions and originality of the owners are revealed in different places on the property, without ostentation however. In addition to their own works and those of their collections, we observe them in these small details which contribute to the personality of the house. They appear in these wooden shutters with holes, inspired by the work of the architect and designer Jean Prouvé, as a reminder in these black circles on the white step of the landing, in this skylight which gives a view not outside, but into the workshop, in this wooden bath, in this little pavilion at the bottom of the garden, and tutti quanti.
Expanding and redefining the space, improving the comfort of a house of a certain age without distorting its original style is a challenge when it comes to renovations.
Although he is proud of the work done, Mr. Marchand freely admits that the house was already “very beautiful before”. He particularly loved the large cedar roof, “magnificent,” he said, which he maintained using a cherry picker. But there came a time when the cedar roof had had its day. As maintenance was no longer enough, the owners opted for a metal roof about ten years ago, which is still beautiful, requires little or no maintenance, and is good for a long time.
It was about then that the couple added a double garage at the end of the house, topped by a large loft workshop, with a 14-foot-high ceiling. A dream location for any artist! This new wing was added to the one that had grown at the other end of the house several years previously. These first major works added a basement, a living room with a glass roof on the ground floor, as well as a large master bedroom upstairs.
Several rooms in this house have had different functions over the years. “The kitchen has moved a few times in 30 years,” Mr. Marchand recalls. It was there, then there, and finally where it is today, with its large island and its practical elements. The original kitchen, rather small as it was done at the time, has become a sort of “pantry”, as we say in bad French. In short, it is now a room which mainly combines a laundry room and a food reserve. The dining room also played musical chairs. There was a time, quite a long time, when she was in what is now the living room, Mr. Marchand points out.
The house has four bedrooms and three bathrooms, as well as two staircases that lead upstairs. The oldest leads to the master bedroom, the other, contemporary in design and made by a local craftsman, ends up in the workshop. The generous windows provide beautiful light throughout, and allow you to enjoy the view of the land and its abundant vegetation.
If life inside the house is very pleasant, the outside is just as pleasant, if not more so for the owners, fervent admirers of nature. The large red oak, stately pines and other trees, many of which the couple planted themselves on the expansive grounds, contribute to the beauty and privacy of the property. “It’s a really beautiful wood,” Mr. Marchand still marvels. Small animals are of the same opinion. Marmots, rabbits (two kinds, according to Mr. Marchand) and birds come regularly to make their rounds. The land is also well landscaped, with a pond, a vegetable garden and a large terrace. At the bottom, there is also a building which served as a photo workshop.
Hudson is located about sixty kilometers from Montreal, in the county of Vaudreuil-Soulanges, in Montérégie. Bordered to the north by Lac des Deux Montagnes, the place is bucolic, with lush greenery. The town, which is more reminiscent of a village, is friendly with its small cafes, restaurants and artistic activities. Mr. Marchand and Mrs. Décarie have enjoyed their home and the region, but life means that they must now settle in Montreal. The big gray house on Main Street will make someone else happy.